Contact lenses can provide great costume looks for Halloween, but Nebraska eye care professionals are warning that prescriptions and proper fitting are needed to minimize the risk of injury and blinding infections.
Although popular with Halloween costumes, Nebraska ophthalmologists are warning about the risks decorate contact lenses pose for eye injury and vision loss
The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology say decorative lenses that offer blood drenched vampire eyes, glow in the dark lizard eyes and more are popular, but can lead to "real life nightmares" of eye damage and blinding infections.
Eye care professionals say all contact lenses require a prescription and proper fitting.
“As an ophthalmologist, I am very concerned that it is so easy to obtain decorative contact lenses without a prescription,” said David D. Ingvoldstad, M.D., president of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.
“Too many patients have injured their eyes and permanently damaged their vision using these products, having no idea that they could be dangerous. Parents and teens need to understand the risks of decorative contact lenses and be vigilant about getting a prescription if they plan to wear them.”
In 2005, a federal law classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye care professionals.
Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Additionally, some decorative lenses, such as trendy circle lenses, are not FDA-approved.
Consumers should only buy decorative contact lenses from an eye care professional or a seller who asks for a prescription and sells FDA-approved products.
To safely wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween or any time of year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following these guidelines:
Get an eye exam from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist.
Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
Purchase the decorative contact lenses from a licensed eye care professional or an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription.
Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
Never share contact lenses with another person.
Get follow up exams by your eye care provider.
To obtain a prescription for decorative contact lenses, an eye care professional will measure each eye to ensure proper fit. Contacts that are not fitted by an eye care professional may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea. An eye care professional will also provide contact lens care instructions. Contacts that are left in for too long or that are not properly cleaned and disinfected can significantly increase the risk of an eye infection.
If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and cause blindness if left untreated. For more information on decorative contact lens safety or to find an Eye M.D., visit www.geteyesmart.org.
Read a patient story and view the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 30- and 90-second public service announcements.
About the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons
The mission of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is to promote the highest quality medical and surgical eye care through public and professional education, membership services, and legislative advocacy. Learn more at www.nebeye.org.
Note to media: High-resolution images and interviews with ophthalmologists available upon request.